“Genetic RefleXions,” a magic mirror that displays genetic info about the person with their reflection

By: Cameron Aaron ‘21

Advising Faculty: Stephen Douglass

Majors: Computer Science and Psychology

Internship: SpaceX, Hawthorne, CA, and GitHub, San Francisco, CA 

Recipient of the 2021 Ammerman Center Bridget Baird Award

Project/Mission Statement

I wanted to create a magic mirror that allows us to castaway people’s phenotypic expression in favor of internal genotypes and information about their DNA. Giving the person insight into their genes can provide them a new perspective on who they are and boost their self-perception.

Mirrors and reflective surfaces are the only ways for people to see themselves: for many, this can lead to a sort of dysphoria if they do not see an image that aligns with what they feel internally (Gender dysphoria), or they see themselves in a way they don’t like (Body dysmorphia). The person viewing the art will plug a USB drive into our machine, and on that drive, we will find a genome file. The mirror will visualize the genome file around the user. 23andme uses a custom-made Illumina Chip that shows 25510 of the SNPs. Some are formatted in a proprietary format instead of the standard RSIDs (Reference Snp Cluster Id), so I have been researching to figure out what the translations are from their format to the RSIDformat (which are not all known). I have made an app that can parse the 23andmefiles and guess people’s traits using SNPs from RSIDs in Python. I have created a script that splits the 23andme genotypes into individual chromosomes then compares the 23andme raw data and the GWAS dataset.

In the future, I will have a script that can parse the 23andme files when they are uploaded to a server through a web front end and can be associated with a specific user so that when the person logs into their account on the mirror, their DNA info can be displayed to them.

Related Fields: Ammerman Center